THE BAJA POST
As part of the Action Program for the Conservation of the California Condor (Gymnogyps californianus) and the United States-Mexico Program for the Recovery of the California Condor, Mexico´s Department of Environment and Natural Resources (Semarnat in Spanish), through the National Commission of Protected Natural Areas (Conanp) and the General Direction of Wildlife, in collaboration with the Environment Secretariat of Mexico City, transferred four condors born in the Chapultepec Zoo to the Sierra de San Pedro Mártir National Park, in Baja California,
The task was carried out in a joint effort with with the Secretary of the Navy (Semar), a key element in the successful and timely transportation of the specimens by aircraft, which allowed them to reduce the travel time as well as to keep the individuals under surveillance during almost 15 hours that the trip lasted.
The four condors, three females and one male, will remain under observation inside an aviary specially designed for them so they can get used to the new weather conditions they will find in San Pedro Martir, from where they will be released in a couple of months to join the free-living population.
There were plenty of California Condor specimens at the beginning of the 20th century in Baja California and in California; however, in the 1930s it was seen less every time, until in 1939 it stopped flying in Mexico and was considered extinct.
From then until the late 1980s, fewer than 10 individuals survived in a limited area of California, given this situation, the decision was made to capture the last condors and integrate them into an intensive captive breeding program.
This was done aiming to increase both the number of births and the survival of chicks through intensive care, especially during the critical stages, that is, egg incubation, newborn and growing chicks. These measures were taken in the late 1980s and early 1990s, which comprise the cornerstone of the California Condor Recovery Plan.
Once a population of the species under human care was established, a program was started to release individuals in areas of historical distribution, first in the United States and later in Mexico
In 2002, the first reintroduction of six California condors took place in the San Pedro Mártir Mountain Range. The following years, more specimens were reintroduced, and by 2010, there were already 25 condors in the wild. Today, 20 years after the program began, there is a free-living population of about 50 individuals.
In 2007, the Chapultepec Zoo joined this effort, initiating a program of dissemination and environmental education, up to now, it is the only reproduction site under human care of the species in our country.
The California Condor Binational Recovery Program has been possible thanks to the close collaboration of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and the San Diego Zoological Society, as well as multiple national and international institutions and civil society organizations who have contributed resources and knowledge to return the species to the Mexican skies.
While zoos have played a relevant role in the conservation of organisms of species extirpated from the wild, through reproduction and breeding in captivity, Natural Protected Areas have played a fundamental role in conserving and restoring the habitat of endangered species or near extinction.
The recovery project for this species is an example of the success that a multi-institutional collaboration project can achieve. It is expected that in the coming years more specimens from the San Diego and Chapultepec Zoos can be incorporated into the Sierra de San Pedro Mártir National Park. This is how Semarnat and Conanp endorse their commitment to the recovery of species at risk in our country.